Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Conversation Stoppers' Fight Deadly Bacterial Infections

Date:
September 12, 2006
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In an effort to stop the spread of deadly bacterial infections, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designed a group of potent compounds that can block the chemical signals that bacteria use to communicate. The compounds, which they call "conversation stoppers," also show promise for reducing the potential for antibiotic resistance, they say. Their study will be presented Sept. 10 in San Francisco at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Bacteria can aggregate and produce dangerous biofilms that make them physically resistant to antibiotics. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designed a group of compounds that show promise for blocking biofilm formation, a strategy that could one day result in new drugs to fight infections.
Credit: Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service

Bacterial infections are becoming more deadly worldwide due to increased resistance to antibiotics. Now, chemists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a powerful strategy to fight these deadly infections: Instead of killing the bacteria directly, the scientists designed a group of compounds that can block the chemical signals that the bacteria use to communicate in an effort to stop their spread.

These compounds, small organic molecules that they call 'conversation stoppers,' could help deliver a powerful one-two punch to knock out deadly infections when combined with the killing power of antibiotics, the scientists say. In addition, these 'conversation stoppers' do not target bacterial growth, so the potential for the development of bacterial resistance is minimized. This research, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, could lead to new drugs to fight infections, was described today at the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

"There is an urgent, global need for new antibacterial therapies," says study leader Helen Blackwell, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemistry at the University. "The ability to interfere with bacterial virulence by intercepting bacterial communication networks represents a new therapeutic approach and is clinically timely."

Bacteria use chemical signals to initiate the majority of human infections. When these signals reach a certain threshold (in a process known as quorum sensing), pathogenic bacteria will change their mode of growth and produce virulence factors that lead to infection. These chemical signals also trigger the bacteria to produce slimy biofilms that cloak the bacteria and make the colony physically resistant to antibiotics.

Attempts to block bacterial quorum sensing are being conducted by a growing number of research groups. Many of these studies have focused on a group of small molecules called N-acylated L-homoserine lactones (AHLs), which are key signaling molecules used by Gram-negative bacteria.

But discovery of these molecules has been a relatively slow process until now. Blackwell and her associates have found that the use of 'microwave-assisted chemistry,' a novel laboratory technique for heating chemical reactions using microwaves, can dramatically accelerate the synthesis of AHL analogs that can either block or stimulate bacterial communication.

"Using microwave heating and combinatorial techniques to generate libraries of molecules, we can now produce and test in one day a group of compounds that previously would have taken a month to study using conventional techniques," Blackwell says.

So far, the researchers have identified at least two compounds that show particular promise at blocking biofilm formation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is a common cause of death in people with cystic fibrosis, AIDS and severe burns. In collaborative research with Fred Ausubel, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Blackwell and her colleagues demonstrated that several of these compounds can extend the lives of worms infected with P. aeruginosa.

Recently, Blackwell designed 'conversation stoppers' that are specific to one bacterial strain and not others, allowing more efficient, selective attack on specific bacterial strains. This selectivity can help avoid disrupting beneficial bacteria, such as those in the gut that aid digestion, she says.

Some 'conversation stoppers' also hold promise for fighting crop diseases, biofilm formation on medical implants and catheters, and even bioterror agents. More studies are needed, says Blackwell, adding that her compounds haven't been tested in humans or plants but says that those tests are anticipated.

The American Chemical Society -- the world's largest scientific society -- is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "'Conversation Stoppers' Fight Deadly Bacterial Infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060911103419.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2006, September 12). 'Conversation Stoppers' Fight Deadly Bacterial Infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060911103419.htm
American Chemical Society. "'Conversation Stoppers' Fight Deadly Bacterial Infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060911103419.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins